The 1990s was the Golden Age of the glossy legal thriller, where big stars wore even bigger coats and sought to unravel a conspiracy with far-reaching implications, thanks almost entirely to John Grisham.
In the space of just five years, seven of the author’s novels were brought to the silver screen to give us the likes of Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman in The Firm, Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in The Client, Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson in A Time to Kill, Hackman again opposite Chris O’Donnell in The Chamber, Matt Damon and Jon Voight in The Rainmaker and Kenneth Branagh and Robert Downey Jr. in The Gingerbread Man.
One of the most successful Grisham adaptations was 1993’s The Pelican Brief, which paired Denzel Washington with Julia Roberts and went on to earn over $195 million at the box office. The plot follows a hotshot law student who finds herself targeted by a shadowy cabal of killers that murder her mentor and lover. Forced to go on the run in New Orleans, she teams up with an intrepid journalist as they seek to learn the truth behind the assassinations she uncovered that have left her fearing for her life.
It’s a standard entry into the genre that’s elevated significantly by the performances of the two leads, as you’d expect from an accomplished duo like Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. The political thriller has proven popular on Netflix as the recent success of State of Play has shown, and now that The Pelican Brief is available on the world’s biggest streaming site, don’t count it out from cracking the Top 10 most-watched list by the end of the week.